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Friday, Shevat 24, 5778 / February 9, 2018


This Shabbat besides reading Parshat Mishpatim, we will also read Parshat Shekalim from a second Torah. Because of this special reading, this Shabbat is called Shabbat Shekalim.


Shabbat Shekalim is the first of four special Torah readings that occur between now and Rosh Chodesh Nissan.


Parshat Shekalim begins, "And the L-rd spoke to Moshe saying, 'When you want to count the sum of the Children of Israel according to their numbers, every man shall give a ransom for his soul to the L-rd… This they shall give a half shekel... The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than the half shekel." (Exodus 30:11-16).


According to Halacha (Jewish law), Jews are forbidden to be counted directly. Therefore, G-d commanded that every Jewish man, between the ages of twenty and sixty, give a half shekel. By counting the number of half Shekalim, Moshe knew the amount of the people. 


The portion of the Half Shekel is read each year on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Adar. For during the time of the Holy Temple, beginning Rosh Chodesh Adar Jews were reminded to contribute to the fund which sponsored the public sacrifices. Although we don't have the Holy Temple (Beth Hamikdash) now, we still read this portion to remind us of the days of the Temple.  This also affirms our belief in the coming of Moshiach and the rebuilding of the Beth Hamikdash.


According to our sages, G-d showed Moshe a "coin of fire" and told him, "This they shall give."


Q.  Why did G-d show Moshe a coin of fire? Why did G-d command to give only a half shekel?


A.  This teaches us that in addition to performing the act of giving charity, one must know "How" to give charity. Thus, G-d illustrated to Moshe the half shekel in the form of fire, for one must give charity with "fire" -- wholeheartedly with energy and enthusiasm.


The reason G-d commanded each one to give a "half" Shekel is to teach us that a Jew by himself is only "half."  Only when we connect with another person, who gives the other half shekel, are we complete. Thus, Parshat Shekalim and the idea of the "half" shekel teaches us the concept of unity and Ahavat Yisroel – Love your fellow as yourself.


This Shabbat we recite the special blessings for the New Month of Adar. Rosh Chodesh will be Thursday and Friday (February 15 & 16).




Montrealcandle lighting time: 4:55 / Shabbat ends: 6:00